Elephant and Key

I came across this receipt for the obsolete Asiatic National Bank of Salem (1824-about 1910) and was immediately enchanted:  an elephant holding a key, my two favorite images, together.

A great clipping, but what to do with it?  I thought I might try to transform  it into fabric via Spoonflower, but the fact that it’s a seal, featuring words and letters, makes it a bit too official/souvenir-looking for a fabric, I think.  Still, it’s always fun to play around with that site, so it took me a while to reach that conclusion.

I also found a check (for three cents!) and a banknote (for three dollars), from back in the day (in this case 1864) when currency could be issued by private banks.  As you can see the elephant, ever the symbol of the exotic east, is featured prominently (but no key).

From this bill, it is obvious that the bank’s office was in the East India Marine Hall, before it became the Peabody Museum (and the present-day Peabody Essex Museum).  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by this building and failed to notice the “Asiatic Bank” inscription on the front.  A 1933 HABS photograph of the Marine Hall from the Library of Congress is below, as well as one of its facade, taken yesterday.

2 responses to “Elephant and Key

  • ceciliag

    that was a great post, so many things we do not see!! when we look every day! I am intrigued by that fabric site though, i am going to go back and have a look at that.. c

  • Jean Germano

    I found your site by chance looking for information regarding the Asiatic Bank. The elephant with the key was designed by Ross Sterling Turner a
    Salem artist 1847-1915. I have been researching him for some time.
    Years ago there was a postcard with the logo and a short history of the
    bank being absorbed by Naumkeag Trust. The Asiatic Bank was formed to help finance the Maritime Trade of the Salem merchants and sea captains with the East Indies.

    You live in a beautiful part of the country.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: